Systemic Constraints

Foster care is a system full of constraints.  There are the legal ones and the social ones and the physical ones.  Regardless of good intentions, anyone choosing to be a foster parent will have to recognize, acknowledge, work within, make the system fit their actual circumstances and do the best they can without ever being able to end the constraints.  It is fraught with problems.

The foster care system is simply corrupt. As a foster parent, you can’t change it from the inside.  There are those that would love to just burn it all down but it is too overwhelming and entrenched to make any difference.  Better to acknowledge as a foster parent that you are not special nor are you are privileged enough to change anything.

No matter what you do, if you have a corrupt social worker, they can and will do whatever they want to. A parent should not have to fight Child Protective Services or the Department of Human Services to regain custody of their own kids. Foster caregivers should not have to fight these same large bureaucratic agencies. Those seeking a kinship solution for their young family members should not have to fight the system.  But all of these do and often fail to achieve success.

One foster parent recently shared her own perspective informed by direct experience – These agencies had an premeditated, well executed plan in place, before they even let her know what was happening. They made it where she, the agency she works through and the kids’ parents have no way to stop the forward trajectory of that plan expected to culminate in adoption. And she has tried and pulled out all the stops in defense of this family.

She now has a plan to show up at the court house with these 4 kids and their parents in order to try to beg and plead with the judge to intervene. She acknowledges that at this point, the judge is the only one that can stop the removal of these children from their parents and the permanent termination of those parents’ rights to their own offspring.

She explains the damage she saw when she took the children to visit their parents.  The expectation was for a long afternoon filled with swimming, music, cooking and fun.  Yet the devastation in the parents overwhelmed the prospect of a joyful occasion.  All she saw in the parents’ eyes were tears, sadness, worry, defeat, anger, hopelessness and confusion.  These emotions infected the children.   The mom, dad and brothers spent most of their time together crying off and on. These children face that permanent end to their natural familial relationships in only a couple of days.  It weighed heavily on every one in the family.

It is a helpless, angry, sad, worried, and defeated feeling.  This foster mom had to drive by the local Department of Human Services in her way back out of town after this visit.  She admits to having felt so distraught that if she had had a lighter and some gasoline, she would have been tempted to burned the place to the ground.

She judges that none of this okay but that this is the foster care system – corruption, an abuse of power and the application of a kind of oppression that traumatizes the children and their parents.  As a foster parent, she experiences a lack of support and compassion from the system. It is her feeling that they don’t care about families. She believes monetary issues based on a for profit adoption model are what matters in this case.

Admittedly, this is the story of a poor family with 10 children.  The issue here is with the 4 youngest who are babies or toddlers.  This age group of children is easy to place for adoption because there is more demand to adopt babies than a supply of such children.

Her feelings are such that she warns people thinking about becoming foster parents to just don’t.  Do not be part of the problem. She warns that if you are, then you are participating in a corrupt system that intentionally tears families apart. Not to be deluded into thinking you will be one of the “good ones” who is going to change anything. The system doesn’t care about the foster parent and they have no power within it. The system will trample on a foster parent, just like it tramples on everyone else.

If there were no foster homes and child welfare agencies, then there would be billions of $$ available to create family supports for everything from abuse to addiction and everything in between. There would be no harm and resources would be plentifully available for struggling parents.

Need convincing monetary issues are involved in people becoming foster parents ?

Let’s suggest a realistic figure of $77/day/child for foster parents. $77 times 30 days = $2,121/month/kid. If there are 3 kids being fostered that is $6,363/month total.  If the foster care lasts for a year then that is $76,356. And it isn’t unusual for a foster home to house as many as 6 kids for a year, netting these people $152,712 for that year.  It is easy to see that providing foster care can be considered a good way to make one’s living.  And this calculation doesn’t even begin to factor in the money the whole adoption industry makes providing children to hopeful adoptive parents.

The number of child welfare workers known to lie to kids and their parents, or withhold information from them, in the effort to prevent a reunification within the natural family, is appalling to those with direct knowledge.  This is a system that needs to change but for which any change seems impossible to achieve.

 

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